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10 self-discovery techniques to help you find yourself

July 4, 2022 - 16 min read


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What is self-discovery?

10 self-discovery techniques

What drives a self-discovery journey?

8 questions to ask yourself in your self-discovery journey

4 stages of the self-discovery process

7 tips to accept yourself

The bottom line

You may have tried some self-discovery techniques over the years. Maybe you felt down about your job so you spent time journaling, or unsure about your career path so you tried a new hobby. We all question who we truly are at some point on our journey. 

In the past, however, you may have gotten distracted and forgotten to continue the process of self-discovery. Life gets busy, and we can lose our authentic selves when we get caught up in jobs we aren’t passionate about or relationships that aren’t good for us. 

But why does self-discovery matter? Do you really need to take the time to try out self-discovery techniques? Well, research shows that being connected to your true self is directly linked to your sense of meaning in life

Feeling like your life has meaning can help you be happier, have a more successful career, and overall improve your well-being

Not to mention, getting in touch with your inner self will give you a better understanding of your life's purpose. But the process of self-discovery isn't easy. You’ll need focus, commitment, and a readiness to take action. 

Whether you’re happy in your career or completely lost in life, there’s no bad time to try out some self-discovery techniques. We can all benefit from a greater connection to our true selves. Let’s dive into what self-discovery is and how you can get started.


What is self-discovery?

Self-discovery is the process of learning more about who you are so that you can better recognize and understand your authentic self. You might already know what your core values are and your general likes and dislikes. Self-discovery goes much deeper than this, though. 

Self-knowledge is crucial to understanding and regulating your emotions, personality traits, and behaviors. It gives you greater self-awareness, the ability to set better goals, and the potential to achieve more personal growth.

Self-discovery is important because it allows us to look at our lives and determine what's missing.

Are you satisfied with your career? Do you want to change your lifestyle? How are your physical health and wellness? What about mental wellness? After identifying what's missing, you can take steps toward filling the gaps. 

Knowing yourself also means you can be more mindful about setting goals that are right for you. You won’t need to rely on extrinsic motivation to move toward goals that reflect your personal values. As a result, you'll be more likely to achieve them.

Self-discovery is an ongoing process. You won’t find your sense of self scrolling through social media or buying new clothes. Your journey of self-discovery will test your resilience and strength. It will also be inspiring, meaningful, and an excellent opportunity to grow. 

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10 self-discovery techniques

Maybe you have already decided to gain some self-knowledge, but you don't know where to begin. Here's the thing: there’s no correct way to go about this journey. It's yours. If you find a technique that works for you but not others, it doesn't mean you're doing it wrong.

Still, some self-discovery techniques might help you get in touch with your values and desires. Here are 10 self-discovery ideas for you to try:

  1. Spend time visualizing your ideal self and lifestyle 
  2. Think about your passions, interests, and dreams
  3. Get out of your comfort zone and try new things
  4. Consider each of your skills, no matter how big or small they are
  5. Reflect on what you admire the most about yourself
  6. Journal your experiences, life changes, and thoughts
  7. Talk with a life coach to strategize your next moves
  8. Listen to podcasts or read books about other people's journeys to inspire yourself
  9. Strengthen your mental health and well-being
  10. Let go of other people's image and expectations of you and follow your internal compass


What drives a self-discovery journey?

Your self-discovery journey doesn’t require you to reinvent yourself (unless you want to). You can simply desire to understand yourself better. Maybe you want to be more in control of your life or feel a sense of agency when planning your future.

You also surely want to feel like you can accomplish your goals. You don't need to prove anything to anyone else during your self-discovery journey.

But when you show yourself that you can achieve your goals, your self-esteem and self-confidence grow. Plus, increased self-awareness can help you better identify potential obstacles to your goals

A better understanding of yourself will also drive you to have healthier relationships. Increased self-awareness creates increased self-regulation.

This can help you communicate better with friends, family members, and coworkers. You’ll be able to offer sensible advice and honest opinions while regulating your emotions

If you need extra support during your self-discovery journey, consider working with BetterUp.  We can help you stay focused, learn new self-discovery skills, and keep you from losing sight of your goals.

8 questions to ask yourself in your self-discovery journey

To be our best selves and identify what's missing from our lives, we can always try asking ourselves some questions. This is an important self-discovery technique.

Nobody can do your self-exploration for you, so take a moment during your daily routine to pause and reflect. Get rid of distractions and get comfortable with your own thoughts.

Here are eight questions to ask yourself during the process of self-discovery:

  1. What do you fear the most in life and why?
  2. What lessons from your childhood have stuck with you to this day?
  3. Does the job you currently have to fulfill your needs and make you happy?
  4. What problems are you facing at the moment?
  5. Do you make rash or well-thought-out decisions?
  6. What's one thing you want to improve in your life, and how will you do that?
  7. What are your top three values in life?
  8. If you could do anything right now, what would you do?


4 stages of the self-discovery process

Self-discovery is an ongoing process that doesn’t always feel the same. You’ll grow and change as you discover more about yourself. Your starting point will most likely feel nothing like the finish line. 

As you move throughout the process, you may experience different stages. Throughout each stage, remember to take care of yourself.

Here are the four stages of the self-discovery process and what you'll experience during each one of them:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Awareness of interests
  3. Dreams and ambitions
  4. Career discovery

Let’s talk about each step of the process:

1. Self-awareness

This is when you realize your needs and acknowledge different personality traits, including your strengths and weaknesses. You could struggle with self-doubt here, but you can overcome it with a bit of resilience.

Being honest about who you are and what you want is crucial. When have you made mistakes in the past? How did you react? Is there a pattern?

2. Awareness of interests

Take note of your interests. What are your hobbies, likes, and dislikes? Is there a common theme? Narrowing down your interests helps you both personally and professionally.

Maybe the best part of your day is when you start making dinner. Bonus points if you’re hosting a dinner party with all of your friends. Do you enjoy the social aspect? Is the kitchen your safe place? What does that tell you about yourself?

3. Dreams and ambitions

Make sure you put time for daydreaming in your schedule. You’ll do plenty of it during your self-discovery journey. There’s no limit on how many dreams you can have. Once you know what you’re passionate about and what it means to you, you can add more of it to your life. 

These don’t have to be career ambitions, either. You could register for a cooking class just for fun because you dream of being a better chef. Or you could plan a trip to a faraway country you’ve always wanted to visit. The sky’s the limit.


4. Career discovery

After all of your list-making and planning, you might want to make a job or career change. All the hard work you put into narrowing down your interests, dreams, and goals will lead you to your true self.

You might identify your calling or passion in life and choose to pursue it. Will you become a chef, or do you simply work in marketing and host a mean dinner party? 

Either way — congrats! You’ve gotten in touch with your authentic self and what makes you happy. Now it’s time to take action.

7 tips to accept yourself

Accepting yourself is an important step towards self-discovery. It’s impossible to learn about yourself if you turn a blind eye to things you don’t like about yourself. If you’re struggling to see yourself for who you are, you’ll never be able to grow.

If you're struggling with self-acceptance, here are seven tips to help you have more self-love in your life:

  1. Include more positive self-talk throughout your day
  2. Love and embrace your weaknesses rather than try to hide them
  3. Take the challenging days as they come, but know that they won't last forever
  4. Understand that your lifelong relationship is with yourself
  5. Do things alone to get to know yourself better
  6. Accept the things you can't change about yourself and move forward
  7. Don't forget to laugh and find humor in your flaws


The bottom line

The journey of self-discovery can be overwhelming at times. Self-reflection requires you to talk about difficult things. If you need help, share your thoughts with your friends or family. 

If you're feeling stuck or unsure about what your next move should be, discussing it with another person can help. They can offer validation if you're pursuing all possible self-discovery techniques. Plus, they can cheer you on as you get to know yourself better. 

BetterUp is a supportive community that wants to see you accomplish your self-discovery goals. If you need extra support, try working with BetterUp to get the accountability and perspective you need to discover your true self.

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Published July 4, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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